Scenes from a Week of Indivisible Activism
It was a busy week of protest for Indivisible: Conejo's dedicated activists! At top are participants in the Day Without an Immigrant march in Oxnard on May 1; below that are three photos from the May 3 healthcare rally at Rep. Steve Knight's office, including one featuring members of our Individuals with Disabilities' Rights team and their children. The Ventura Climate March, held April 29, brought together hundreds of activists who created a Human Thermometer on the trail ascending the hill at the Ventura Botanic Garden. At bottom are participants in the "100 Days of Trump" protest at the Reagan Library on April 26.
Fighting the Good Fight
A Message from Jennifer, Gina & Jon
This edition of Indivisible: Conejo's weekly newsletter arrives on the heels of our first major legislative defeat of 2017. And while the version of Trumpcare just passed in the House may not survive a week in the Senate, this difficult day is as good a time as any to take stock of what our advocacy has achieved over the three (gulp) months since Trump's inauguration.
Sure, we had lost some battles before this one. Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court confirmation was a difficult blow -- though our activism helped steel the spines of every Democratic senator (even the institutionalist Dianne Feinstein) so that Republicans were forced to end the filibuster for judicial nominations. That decision will haunt them, soon enough. Meanwhile, we have issued Daily Actions on nearly a dozen GOP attempts to kill Obama-era regulations under the Congressional Review Act; Republicans succeeded in every one of those fights.
So we've suffered some defeats -- and we'll suffer some more in the months and years ahead. Republicans hold a great deal of power in Washington right now, and they've shown a willingness to fudge facts, break rules and crush institutions in order to gain even more power.
Still, this one stings. A large majority of Americans have expressed their preference, in poll after poll, to see Congress work on making the Affordable Care Act work better -- not replace it with a plan that will result in more than 24 million Americans losing access to coverage. (Who knows how much worse that number will get when the Congressional Budget Office scores the latest version of Trumpcare?) As Indivisible: Conejo activists, we have rallied to save the ACA (not to mention Planned Parenthood, which the House GOP voted to defund today) on streetcorners, at a hospital, and numerous times in front of Rep. Steve Knight's office. And we've made thousands of phone calls to Knight and our local Democratic congresspeople, spanking (or thanking) them for their positions. Our efforts are being noticed more and more, including by the local media, as evidenced by several Indivisible: Conejo activists featured in this article in the Ventura County Star.
And yet, here we are. There's no reason to sugarcoat it: We organized ourselves enthusiastically, collaborated with others effectively, put in a great deal of effort, offered coherent and passionate (and factual) arguments, and helped fend off Speaker Ryan's first attempt to bring Trumpcare to the floor three weeks ago. And yet, House Republicans -- including Rep. Knight, who no doubt was quaking in his loafers as he cast his vote -- eventually found the votes to pass their bill anyway.
That's the pessimistic view, anyway.
Now let's consider the optimist's view. To begin with, think of what we've put Rep. Knight through over the last couple months! Our strident activism on this issue, our phone banking, our loud voices inside and outside his Town Halls, our voter-registration and canvassing drives, our repeated presence at his office -- all of that helped place him in an untenable position. He knew he couldn't support his party without failing his constituents. He knew we are going to hold him accountable.
That's why he remained on the "undecided" list until the very last moments of today's vote -- because he is afraid of us, and afraid of the math in the 25th district. He won reelection last fall by less than six percentage points; Donald Trump lost his district by seven. He's hoping that the fig-leaf of a last-minute amendment he co-sponsored will soften the blow to his reputation; he's hoping the Senate will either make the bill less disastrous, or else kill it completely. Most of all, he's hoping his constituents have short memories.
It's our job to make sure they don't. It's our job to redouble the efforts we've begun, to keep fighting on the phones and on the streetcorners and on his constituents' doorsteps, until we help the 25th district drive him from office -- along with enough other Republicans nationwide that we no longer have to worry about congresspeople who hide from their constituents.
In the meantime, let's continue fighting to save the ACA in the Senate. Let's continue fighting the other elements of Trump's destructive agenda -- on immigration, the rights of women and minorities, tax reform and entitlements, science and technology and the environment, guns, education, and the separation of church and state (another issue Trump mangled this morning). Let's support the efforts of California's U.S. senators and state legislature to block and repair the damage Trump is doing on immigration, with bills such as SB 54 (the California Values Act). And let's see what the legislature does with single-payer healthcare (SB 562, the Healthy California Act).
We lost a battle today, and it hurts -- but we're winning the war against Trumpism. Can you feel it? We have public opinion strongly on our side. We have facts, we have empathy, and even after today we have momentum. It's going to be a marathon, and there will be more defeats along the way -- but we're going to win. Keep fighting the good fight!
Mark Your Calendar!
UPCOMING ACTION TEAM MEETINGS
Last Week's Indivisible: Conejo Daily Actions: April 27-May 4
4/27 -- Drop Trumpcare, Or Face a Shutdown
4/28 -- Emergency Rally at Rep. Knight's Office
5/1 -- A Day Without an Immigrant March
5/2 -- Stop Trump from Gutting the EPA's Clean Air Protections
5/3 -- Simi Democrats Rally at Rep. Knight's Office
3/29 -- Last Chance to Stop Trumpcare
News from the Issue Action Teams
On Monday, May 1, team leader Julie Diaz Martinez joined a group of area activists in a meeting with Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean at the county jail. She discussed with him the lack of trust created amongst the immigrant and broader Latino communities with his recent public comments opposing SB 54, the California Values Act, and cooperating with ICE forces in the county. She noted the dangerous precedent set when victims of crimes believe their immigration status will be compromised by coming forward, and the impression he has created that he favors collusion with ICE over upholding the stability of immigrant families. Diaz Martinez wrote a Letter to the Editor that was published in the Thousand Oaks Acorn on May 4, in response to Sheriff Dean's misleading op-ed in the paper two weeks earlier.
The team is organizing a panel discussion on immigration issues for Indivisible: Conejo's general meeting on Sunday, May 21 (see calendar).
Team members have been active and contributing to the growing IR movement. Team members attended a meeting in which the Rio School District in Oxnard created and approved language making that district's schools Safe Zones for immigrants. A team member has been working as a translator, providing a valuable service for those who require that their voices be heard. Diaz Martinez attended a Detainee Witness Training which will allow her access to the Adelanto detention facility to serve as a witness, interviewing and recording statements by detainees.
In coming weeks, team members will host a Protect and Empower Yourself Now! session, educating threatened families (in Spanish and English) on how to prepare one’s family in the face of immigration concerns. Other team members will serve on an Immigrant Rights panel convened by the Democratic Club of the Conejo Valley on May 10.
Swing District Elections
The team invites Indivisible: Conejo activists to participate in two upcoming canvassing events registering voters in the 25th district: in Simi Valley this Sunday, May 7, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (meet at the Starbucks at 1197 E. Los Angeles Ave.), and in the Antelope Valley on Saturday, May 13 (a carpool will leave JC Penney at the Oaks Mall at 8 a.m.).
Individuals with Disabilities' Rights
The team held its first meeting on April 29, discussing issues including the Republican healthcare bill's potential effects on persons with disabilities, including funding for Medi-Cal; and monitoring the Conejo Valley USD school board as well as other education issues at the national and local levels. The team organized a presence of persons with disabilities at the rally outside Rep. Steve Knight's office on May 3.